Introducing: The Policy Column

Some CaSP members have recently banded together to write a weekly science policy column to engage Wisconsin scientists in federal and local policy. The main contributor will be Laura Szymanski, a Science Policy Fellow with the Geological Society of America’s (GSA), with other CaSP members contributing. Keep up to date with legislation introduction, timelines, and opportunities for local and federal policy engagement!

July 10, 2019 Policy Updates

Written By: Laura Szymanski, Science Policy Fellow

STEM Bills: On 20 June 2019, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology passed two bills related to STEM education: H.R. 2528 and H.R. 36.  H.R. 2528, the STEM Opportunities Act of 2019, addresses the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields.  H.R. 36, the Combatting Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019, addresses pervasive sexual harassment in higher education as highlighted in the National Academies of Science 2018 report.  H.R. 36 has a Senate companion bill, S. 1067, which has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of which Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin is a member.  H.R. 36 is co-sponsored by Rep. Mark Pocan.  Opinions of support or opposition to your elected members of Congress would be appropriate at this time.

Appropriations:  The House has passed 10 of 12 annual spending bills, including all science-related appropriations which fund the NSF, NOAA, USGS, EPA, NASA, and other scientific federal agencies.  It was anticipated that Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, would deem spending levels appropriate so Senate appropriators could begin writing and moving appropriation bills; however, following the 4th of July recess, on 08 July, Sen. Shelby said that he will not have the Committee work on appropriation bills until a deal is made regarding the budget caps. On 10 July, Republican Congressional leadership met with Trump Administration negotiators for budget talks.  Negotiations are expected to continue.  To avoid a government shutdown appropriation bills need to be passed by the end of the fiscal year, 30 September.

Laura Szymanski is the Geological Society of America’s (GSA’s) Science Policy Fellow and the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU’s) Voices for Science member. She is currently lobbying on Capitol Hill for science-based decisions and science-related appropriation and authorization legislation.